Frank Sinatra crooned it best: “Fairy tales can come true/they can happen to you/if you’re young at heart.” I certainly believe that lyric, and I know that doll artist Monica Reo is a big fan as well. (http://creationsinporcelain.com/)
Recently Monica wrote to me about one of her new dolls. For several years now, she’s been tackling the classic heroines of children’s literature, but she’s been imbuing them with a level of maturity and costume sophistication.
The newest of her “Fairy Tales: All Grown Up” dolls is a breathtaking version of Snow White. What’s so great about this depiction of the raven-haired, fair-skinned beauty is that Monica gives this animated warbler an alternate identity: complete with new name, new togs, and a bold, passionate personality.
In Monica’s refashioning, Snow White is known as Odette, or “Melodic Ode.” Because she is famous for her crooning with wildlife and a bevy of devoted dwarves, the princess-in-disguise is known by the moniker of Odette.
Keeping consistent with the storybook tale and the classic Disney musical, an “insidious apple” is included in the vignette!
Monica Reo is a huge fan of opera and of classic Hollywood movies. It’s always fun to see how she mates these two components together. In this variation of Snow White, can’t you just see Gene Tierney or Vivien Leigh or Jean Simmons in the part? I can certainly envision one of those dark-tressed actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age wearing the mantle of Odette? Can’t you?
Always looking for inspiration in books and in films, Monica watched “Snow White and the Huntsman,” but found it to be a tad too terrifying for her musing. The artist confides that “Ever After” is more her cup of tea!
I have to admit that I am partial to that Drew Barrymore flick as well. In fact, my sister, who is rather hard to please when it comes to movies, can watch that film whenever she needs a quick way to be cheered up.
Monica recently wrote to me that “Ever After” is also her go-to film for “spirit lifting.” That 1998 film stars a luminescent Drew Barrymore as a feisty, bright, eloquent, and brave heroine named Danielle. Set in the Renaissance, the plot unfolds in France and is tinged with historical allusions and references to real-life philosophers, artists, politicians, and royalty. (Leonardo da Vinci has a remarkable role in the narrative!)
It’s a clever, well-written twist on the Cinderella fable, which we all think we know by heart. This version of the “little cinder girl” is equal parts feminist and feminine. It shows that a woman can be both headstrong and smart, and beautiful and kind.
Inspired by the message of that movie, Monica Reo made her first grown-up fairy-tale heroine. It was inspired by Barrymore’s portrayal of Danielle, but Monica named her doll Gabrielle.
Talk about a “happy ending,” the Gabrielle doll ended up being bought by an aficionado who only collects Cinderella dolls. She reigns there as one of the queens of the roost!
Fairy tales are a great escape for all ages: especially when the news of the world can be so despondent and confusing. It’s always satisfying to find a moment in the day when you can unwind and disconnect from reality.
Of course, I’m not advocating flitting through life with earbuds on and blinkers. We all have to be aware of what is going on in the world today, but there is such a thing as knowing too much.
One of my pleasures is current events, and I am a bona fide news junkie. However, even I need to wean myself away from all of the breaking news and relentless headlines.
That’s why I’m glad there are movies like “Ever After” to be rented or caught on cable. And, certainly, I’m overjoyed that TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is part of my basic-cable package. I couldn’t make it through a summer without some of their momentous movie marathons.
Most of all, I am delighted that doll artists, like Monica Reo, continue to explore well-loved and well-regarded themes. They make dolls that key into the stories and fairy tales that accompanied our childhoods. But they also tweak these characters and tailor them to our adult sensibilities and palates.
Just like Sinatra said, “fairy tales can come true,” and collecting a doll that celebrates them keeps us young and wise at heart!